When I was asked to write something for Russell’s blog, I was totally freaked out, the thought of having to write something in the region of 1,000 words took me back to writing bull*$£t at silly hours the evening before my uni essays were due in! That said, this has been far more therapeutic. I truly hope that all who read this enjoy it, even if that is half as much as the enjoyment of my experience of the stories that follow.
“If music be the food of love, play on”… well, actually, “If music be the food of love, ‘let’s just bloody crack on’…..”. And we did! Always.
Russell, I, and all his friends had many passions that we were fortunate enough to share. But other than strong lager, motorbikes, tequila, motocross, friends, ladies, staying up late, generally testing each others patience and talking crap, it always came back to one thing; music.
Drinking beer…. listening to music..
Talking bikes…. listening to music..
Driving to motocross…. listening to music..
Talking women…. listening to music..
Staying up late…. listening to music..
Talking music…. listening to music..
Like many other passions Russell had, his love of music was varied, eclectic, passionate, argumentative, stubborn, but above all ‘effing cool! The amazing list of songs that was played on the evening of his funeral completely illustrated that (Russell Ultimate Playlist). The enjoyment of listening to Johnny Cash songs played by Splash the Cash with us all celebrating what was… well there we go.
He could be bl**dy messy at times but one thing that was certain was that his CD collection would always be immaculately displayed. Every CD in the right box, right order, you daren’t even flirt with the idea of moving them.. though it was fun to try. His silly little concentration face with the wobbly jaw when he was playing the guitar… moments and images that will live forever.
One of the last conversations Ali and I had with Russell was him ringing us, playing Wonderwall down the phone on his acoustic guitar, with his new found love of the harmonica; apparently every song should have a supporting harmonica! Even when I said it was rubbish he still rang me, leaving multiple voicemail messages… him playing the guitar… playing the harmonica. That said he could play the guitar though, and he could play it damn well!
I guess our strongest (and most non-negotiable) music passion was a rock band formed in Manchester, in 1991. That band was Oasis. Along with all the other great bands of the 1990s, they were the one, the one that drew us to hours of discussion, debate, Noel or Liam arguments, guitars that I’d never heard of but argumentatively debating. They were always the band that hogged the CD player. Blur didn’t even get a look in!
I very clearly remember Russell asking to borrow £5 from me one night at the Prince of Wales. My immediate assumption was that it was for either an illegal pack of fags from Gary OR an illegal Chinese takeaway from Gary OR a dodgy pint and a half from Gary. NO, it was to play the whole of What’s the Story Morning Glory. I think there may have even been a band playing in the pub that night. Russell’s hope was that the jukebox would play louder than the band! A fiver well spent I’d say.
Whilst on the subject of good music, I guess at this point it feels fitting to apologise to Karen, who Russell and I went to watch in Angel, got so drunk that we fell asleep in the pub snoring, then totally hugged each other drunkenly all the way home, with Karen driving! Sorry!
As you all know, Russell and I had something that we referred to as ‘The List’. The list was the ultimate music playlist. An ongoing debate. Often heated. But always good spirited. A meeting that took place irregularly. Often at pubs. Often over many hours. Always with no agreed outcome. But always with a smile and a laugh. I would often get a call to propose a meeting time to discuss said ‘list’. The last time we spoke, our (argued but agreed) list was as follows. Enjoy (incorrect spelling and punctuation remains!)
- Johnny Cash – Hurt
- Oasis – Live Forever
- Elton John – Tiny Dancer
- Jimi Hendrix – All Along the Watchtower
- Stone Roses – Sally Cinnamon
- Lynyrd Skynyrd – Free Bird
- Noel Gallagher – Sad Song
- Manic Street Preachers – Motorcycle Emptiness
- The Libertines – Don’t Look Back into the Sun
- Nirvana – Lithium
- Dire Straits – Romeo and Juliet
- Pearl jam – nothing as it seams
- Oasis – champagne supernova
- Led zeppelin – stair way to heaven
- Bob Dylan – like a rolling stone
- LCD Soundsyetem – All My Friends
- Derek and the dominoes – layla
- The Beatles – lucy in the sky with diamonds
- The Notorious B.I.G – juicy
- Prince – little red corvet
Many of us were fortunate enough to share this love of music. It was an escape but at the same time an aspiration that led our lives and gave us hope. For that I am always grateful, a hope that won’t be lost.
From Milton Keynes Bowl
To trips to Manchester to watch, Oasis,
In 2012 Russell and I decided to buy tickets for a bunch of us to go to see the Stone Roses in Manchester. To this day I am very sad to say that I ended up having to film in Northern India, having the worst stomach upset, with the thoughts of everyone raving away to Stone Roses some few thousand miles away.
My last gig with Russell was at the O2 watching the almighty Manic Street Preachers. I will never forget the moment Motorcycle Emptiness came on. Magical moment.
As with all of you, Russell is always with me, in my thoughts so often. Recently we went to an Oasis exhibition in Shoreditch, and he should have been there to enjoy it too and I wish I could still share these things with him.
One thing that gives me some comfort is that I am so lucky to have had this friendship in my life, and that I got to share so many things with Russell, music being just one of the many.